Jeddah book group leads reading revival through novel initiative

Huda Merchant, founder of Jeddah Reads, left, with other members of the group. The team aims to boost literary activites in Jeddah. (Supplied photo )
Updated 15 January 2019
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Jeddah book group leads reading revival through novel initiative

  • Jeddah Reads aims to revive reading in the city by making books more available for people yet to discover their inner bibliophile
  • Huda Merchant says she was encouraged to organize the group after noticing a "complete lack of a reading culture” in the city

JEDDAH: In a world dominated by the smartphone and the screen, bookworms have been forced to retreat into the shadows, rarely seen beyond the inner sanctums of libraries and reading rooms. Jeddah Reads, though, plans to change that.

A book-based social initiative, Jeddah Reads is a group that came together with one aim: To revive reading in their city by making books more available for people yet to discover their inner bibliophile.

Formed in 2015, the group thinks that by holding reading groups, workshops and social gatherings, more people will make the choice to start reading for themselves.

Huda Merchant, founder of Jeddah Reads, explained: “In 2014, I was researching cultural issues and trends in Saudi Arabia, and something I noticed was the complete lack of a reading culture.”

Among the projects being organized is Wameed 2.0, a series of talks on various themes, recent growth and change to coincide with the new year, to encourage people to use books to help them achieve their goals.

Abrar Al-Qayem, the project manager, said: “We try to have passionate members. That is the soul of this particular project; to encourage people with creative ideas, be they language-based, say, or artistic, who want to develop them.”

 

Message

Jeddah Reads has reached out to coffee shops and hospitals to promote their message. “We would like to see people reading books instead of texting,” Al-Qayem added. “Reading in the community is dying.” 

When gathering information about reading in schools, for example, Jeddah Reads made the shocking discovery that over 60 percent of them don’t have libraries. 

“There is a stigma about reading, because new devices are faster and more efficient. We aim to change this, to eliminate the stigma associated with reading,” said Al-Qayem.

The group gives free packages to new readers, with stationery, trinkets and, of course, a book. “We leave it up to chance to decide if the reader will like it!” Al-Qayem explained. 

“For me, reading is healing. I faced a lot of health problems, so I was always stuck with a book. Reading became an escape. I believe that words are powerful; you can always go anywhere through books.”

The next stage for Jeddah Reads is to expand their events to cater for all genders, age groups and genres, and at the rate the movement is progressing, it surely won’t be long before the population of Jeddah transforms into an army of avid readers.


Al-Sudais condemns Riyadh attack

Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques. (Supplied)
Updated 22 April 2019
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Al-Sudais condemns Riyadh attack

  • The secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars noted the efforts of security services in Zulfi to preserve the safety of the country and protect its people

RIYADH: Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, has condemned the terrorist attack carried out in Zulfi on Sunday.
“Such terrorist acts are a clear contravention of Shariah laws and a violation of the Sunnah of the Prophet, and are nothing but a trick by the enemies of Islam to create strife and turbulence, targeting the security, stability and capabilities of the Kingdom,” he said.
Al-Sudais praised the courage of security services who were able to thwart the attack, and he urged Saudis to support their efforts to prevent future offenses by reporting suspicious activity.
He added that criminal acts such as the attempt in Zulfi endangered the security and stability of the Kingdom, and concluded his statement by asking God to protect the country and heal those wounded in the attack. The secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars noted the efforts of security services in Zulfi to preserve the safety of the country and protect its people.
In a statement, it thanked those involved, and said that their success in thwarting the terrorists, who targeted the investigation center in Zulfi, was a clear endorsement of the rigorous procedures and efforts put in place by the state and others to maintain peace in the Kingdom.